Purdue coming at the right time for Dawson

Spartans senior has posted big numbers against the Boilermakers in previous meetings, something he and his teammates are hoping for after a two-game funk.

There is something about playing Purdue that seems to bring the best out of Branden Dawson.

The Michigan State senior, who was heavily recruited by the Boilermakers, has had highlights such a soaring windmill dunk at Purdue to being the focal point of Purdue fans on the road.

There also was a bit of a kerfuffle between coach Matt Painter and Dawson during a game in East Lansing.

On Monday, Dawson downplayed his career performances against Purdue and playing against one of his home state teams on his senior night Wednesday.

“I think over my career, I have always had a good game against those guys,” Dawson said. “Come senior night, they are going to come ready to play.”

In four games against Purdue, Dawson is averaging 15.8 points per game and 7.0 rebounds. He did not play last year at Purdue due to a broken bond in his right hand.

His teammates have noticed the seemingly extra emotion playing Purdue brings to Dawson. Junior Matt Costello said simply “whatever it is, I like it.”

“He is just ready to play,” Costello said. “It’s like (Denzel Valentine) and I going to Michigan. It’s his home people and he wants to put on a show against them and he does.”

Travis Trice, who also will be celebrating his senior day, said it is a similar level of play that former Spartan Gary Harris brought to games against Indiana. He said – given Dawson’s play at Purdue in the past – he hopes plenty of Purdue fans are on hand.

”They can have some of my tickets if they need to,” Trice said. “I’m expecting a big game from BJ. He had a great day of practice (Monday). He has been great for us, really, this year.”

The visit from the Boilermakers could be coming at the perfect time for Dawson, who is coming off two of his lesser performances of the season. Coach Tom Izzo was displeased with Dawson’s play in Michigan State’s overtime loss to Minnesota last Thursday then did not start him as MSU traveled and lost to Wisconsin.

Dawson and Izzo had a talk that was between 45 minutes to an hour Monday morning.

“I think he feels better about where he’s at because I think he understands what he did,” Izzo said. “He didn’t commit a crime, he didn’t do anything bad, you just can’t play harder in a practice than you do in a game.”

Dawson, who said he knew he had not been playing his best basketball, talked to his teammates about it as well, telling them he will be back on track.

“He just said he is sorry for how he has played the past couple games,” Costello said. “It’s his senior night and he is playing Purdue, he is going to play.”


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